A woman in Utah sees a figure of Jesus on the side of her barn. A Michigan family burns candles in front of a leather shoe on which they see the face of the Blessed Virgin. You've probably heard stories like this. Christ on a piece of toast. Mary in a water-stained concrete overpass. We might find these stories funny or even shake our heads and wonder about the people involved. Psychologists tell us though that we're hard-wired to see human faces in the things of the world. Wallpaper prints or linoleum patterns or leaves or rocks. Who hasn't looked up at the sky a seen a face in the clouds? Scientists say our brains see faces as part of an evolutionary adaptation to see and protect babies. We're naturally drawn to faces because faces reveal our humanity in the midst of the dangers and chaos of the world around us.
Or maybe there's another reason. Maybe it's something much more profound than evolution and more miraculous than psychology. Maybe we see Jesus on a piece of toast because He created us to seek Him. And not just in church, but everywhere in the world. It's His creation, after all. So it makes sense that we see Him or His mother in the world He made for us. Why wouldn't we see God in the things of the world? It would seem much more miraculous if we didn't see Jesus all over the place. When I run across one of those "Jesus in a water stain" pictures, I admit that most of the time, I can see Him, too.
Our hunger for God leads our heart to find Him. But we can never confuse seeing an appearance of an image of the Lord with an authentic relationship with Him. It's like confusing pleasure with happiness. You can go to Mass every Sunday, support the work of the Church financially and with your talents, wear a crucifix around your neck and call yourself a Christian---but if you don't know Jesus, you're still lost. God made us to know Him. And we know Him by spending time with Him. Just like in any relationship, you get to know someone by talking, by listening and by being open and available to allowing them into your life. Your relationship depends and matures as your hearts become vulnerable to one another. Prayer is the starting point. Reading the Gospels allows the life of Christ to unfold in words. Mass is the public prayer of the Church and frequent Holy Communion brings the very life of God into our hearts. We call this "grace." We were made for it. Our lives have meaning through it. Our eternity depends on it.
Jesus says to us, "I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest"(John 10:10). Imagine that for a moment. He came to earth as a little baby for us. Why? Because our first parents had broken our relationship with God and He loved us and missed us. He wanted us back with Him. And so He came. Why? So that we may have life. Life! Because without Him, all we have is existence---passing time in a body until death claims us. But with Christ comes life. We live with meaning and purpose. We awake from the stupor of our self-centeredness and inhale the rich, deep, everlasting essence of God's love for us. We're alive! Fullness of life, too. Not just merely life, but life to the full. Life lived for Christ and in Christ is fully lived.
From a piece of toast to eternal happiness in the love of Jesus Christ --- sometimes I wonder how my mind works. Perhaps you do, too. But if you've read this far, I think it's a safe bet that you're a fellow pilgrim on the journey with Christ. We are His disciples, set free through the Cross to love Him and our neighbor with a heart overflowing with His grace. He didn't promise us an easy road, but He did promise to always be with us along the way. He made us to long for Him. He created us to yearn for His love and grace. And He wants nothing less than everything you are. Rejoice!
"You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."---St. Augustine
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Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
My what a great revival we had last week with Bro. James Langston. He preached the real truth every night. And Mary still sings her heart out.
We had a wonderful service Sunday morning and had four to join the church. We will have a baptizing on Sunday night.
Bro. Pete Reed is retired now and he led the singing every night and his group of singers were with us Sunday night also.
Nancy Westmoreland and I attended the singing at the Welcome Hill Baptist in Ringgold. Their visiting singers were the High Point Quartet and they were a blessing and they had a wonderful service.
Our sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mrs. Mamie Fincher Young, she had been sick for sometime.
Also Mrs. Roma Lee Roberson Pilcher passed away following a long illness. This was James Roberson’s sister.
Bro. Stringer had a very rough week but is feeling better now.
Revival at Calvary Baptist this week. Bro. Tony Hyuth is the pastor; the church is located on Catton Wood Mill Rd., Tunnel Hill. Our youth Sunday will be on the 30. Bro. Michael Blackstock on Sunday morning, and Bro. Richard Riddle on Sunday night. I sure love our youth, they are so faithful. I will be with Bro. Ed Parson at Welcome Hill Baptist Church on the 28, 29 and 30 of September. The services on Friday and Saturday are 7 p.m. on Sunday at 6 p.m.
We had sandwiches and snacks Friday night of the Revival. Sister Pat Martin got the barbeque from Bailey’s Barbeque in Ringgold. Sure was good. So good to see my friend Bro. Gladden Coe. He is pastor of Covenant Baptist Church of Red Bank Chattanooga, Tenn. We are so thankful for our visitors who come by and visit. I am thankful for our members some are old like me, still faithful. There are three things all of us can do for our church, 1. Be faithful, 2. Be friendly and 3. Be fruitful. I talk to my dear friend Bro. Clyde Painter weekly, he has been so helpful to me in the ministry. He is a great blessing and shares so many thoughts and scriptures. A friend loveth at all times.
We will baptize Bro. and sister, David Martin, sister Marilyn Johnson, Carolyn Huskey on Sunday night. Those who are out I love and miss you.
God bless, Bro. Stringer
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Bro. David preached a very timely message from James on our testings that works patience in our lives. If we didn't have the valleys in life we wouldn't enjoy the mountaintops when they do come our way. But thank the Lord He never leaves us even in the valley times of our lives.
Saturday, September 22 is our annual picnic at Pleasant Valley. Come out and join in the fun and fellowship about 4 pm and the food at 6 pm. It will be Bar B Q and the ladies will make desserts and bring drinks. Everyone is welcome to come be with us.
I was wrong about the time for the services at Calvary Baptist Church, where our church will be going on Wednesday evening; it starts at 7:30pm. Anyone that wants to ride the bus meet at our church at 7 o'clock, Bro. David will be preaching Wednesday night then on Thursday night Bro. John Mitchell will be preaching.
We had several out on Sunday. Some were on vacation and some were sick, Carolyn Denton had surgery on an eye last week and Alma Bryson, Karen Holcomb and Billy Mitchell were sick. Jewel Mitchell couldn't make it for Sunday school as she didn't feel well either but she came on at 11. We really missed her in class, as she is not out very often. Also missed Alma and Margie Sellers.
It was great to see our visitors. Hope they enjoyed the service and will come again.
It was good to have Harry, Dianne Hullender and Julie McCrudy back from their Florida trip and to hear they had pretty weather and enjoyed the time away.
We send condolences to the Watts Family in the sudden death of Tommy. This was Joann Plemons Watts husband. Also condolences to the family of Mamie Fincher Young. Her funeral was on Friday. Then one of the dear friends of our church for many years, Faye Robinson, widow of Bro. Cliff Robinson who helped us in the time we didn't have a pastor after Bro. Junior Bryson passed away. Her funeral was on Saturday.
Sunday night Joseph Headrick preached for us. His message was on love from 1 Corinthians 13. It was good to have him and his family back with us. Also Tim Bryson and his family. Enjoyed the song by Tim's daughter.
Dianne Hullender will be having her second treatment on Tuesday. Remember her in your prayers. She has done well with these treatments and they haven't made her sick, just feeling weak and not good for a few days.
Tuesday is our day for the service at Standifer Place Nursing Home. This is always a blessing. It is not enjoyable seeing some of the patients and the condition they are in but it is a blessing to see them singing and enjoying the preaching.
Happy birthday wishes to Billy Mitchell and David Redwine, September 20. Kenneth Peters, September 22. Joel Denton, September 24. Misty Disheroon King, September 26.